By Prudence Minayo
The meat export business in Kenya has its fair share of challenges as it is rewarding. Kenya exports over Sh4 billion meat to Gulf countries with traders like Ms Doreen Gacheri benefiting from this market. The public relations professional got into the export business in 2014. In 2019, she started exporting lamb and goat meat to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Here is her entrepreneurial journey as told by WoK.
Export to Seychelles
After completing school, she worked with her father. Thereafter, she got married and moved to Seychelles. The country depends on a lot of exports and there was also a huge Kenyan community living there. Thus, she got started in the business of exporting cooking oil, maize flour and onions to Seychelles.
In 2018, Ms Gacheri moved back to Kenya and at the time had gathered a lot of experience in the exporting world. The entrepreneur reached out to a friend who had avocados which she started to export to Seychelles. The returns were not as good as she had anticipated.
Exporting fruits to the Gulf countries
The ever enterprising woman set her eyes on Gulf countries. She began exporting avocados and mangoes but the requirements and prohibitions proved too restrictive. She needed a phytosanitary certificate from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, Horticultural Crops Directorate and Global GAP for Approval of soils, water and manure testing.
Due to all these requirements, she went for a product which would be much easier and meat became her choice export product. The founder of Moissanite has been exporting lamb and goat meat to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates since 2019.
Process and Certificates
First, she had to source for quality animals, which she gets from different regions. For the black head Persian breed, she relies on Moyale and Marsabit, Kajiado and Basil for Dorper, and she gets Merino from Molo and Nanyuki.
“You could either go to the farmers and buy from them or get suppliers to bring the animals to the slaughterhouse. I choose the type of animals and quality then pay them. Relying on the suppliers is easier because we do quantities. Also going to most of these areas would need us to understand the local language,” she told Business Daily Africa. When demand is too high, she is at times forced to go to the farmers.
After the animals are sourced, she has to ensure that they are slaughtered in the right manner. As most of her export market is Islam, the meat has to come from a halal slaughterhouse.
After slaughtering, the animals are stored in the chiller in the abattoir. It is maintained completely dry then exported after 24 hours. The amount the abattoir charges are inclusive of slaughtering, chilling, packaging and transporting to the airport.
Before exporting, one has to really be specific on quality, kilograms and gender which must be male animals. On a very busy day, Doreen Gacheri can slaughter up to 1000 animals.
Some of the documents required during the export include:
- A halal Certificate to show Islamic law practices have been practiced
- A veterinary certificate to show condition of the meat including free from influenza, Rift Valley Fever, anthrax and chemical components.
- Certificate of origin from the Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce
Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar had banned Kenyan meat and meat products in August 2021 after reports of the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in some parts of Kiambu. Kuwait and Bahrain lifted the ban in October the same year.
Future Plans and Challenges
For her future plans, Doreen Gacheri hopes to open her own slaughterhouse. She also wishes to venture to the Iraqi and Jordanian markets.
The business comes with its own share of challenges. Some of the problems she faces include: fluctuations in freight rates, fewer flights forcing them to depend on one airline, and delays in offloading. They also risk the loss of cargo at the export destination. When a cargo gets lost, it means that one will not be paid for it. This forces many in the export business to adopt free on board contracts or employ locals in those countries.